Late cold dry spring raises doubts for summer pasture

Duane Dailey

Spring has sprung. But look, it’s the first of May. Supposedly, April showers bring May flowers. But, where were those showers. Snows yes, but we lack real rain.

The daffodils, coated with snow at mid-April, fade. The maple in the front yard finally bloomed. Flower husks litter the walks.

March winds came in April. What does that mean for May? Why hot weather of course, as nature must make up lost time.

Grass grows shockingly short. In the city, services that do lawn mowing already show up to mow non-existent grass.

In a trip from Columbia to Thompson Farm, Spickard, I saw many cow herds spread across green pastures with wisps of grass. Cows are nubbing short leaves back into the ground.

That’s not good. But, farmers who ran out of hay long ago allow over grazing.

In normal years, first grass wouldn’t be grazed ‘til it was tall enough that a cow’s long tongue can grasp a mouth full of long leaves.

Grass needs to grow before it is grazed for the first time. Photosynthesis in those first undisturbed leaves replenish the grass roots. Carbohydrates help build a strong network of roots that will pay returns in the grazing season. That can’t happen on early grubbed grass.

The grazing season will be shorted. That will be doubly hurtful if pessimists are right saying we are in for a hot and dry season.

Some, who follow climate change, see the hot zone of the nation moving northward. They say Missouri will inherit Oklahoma weather.

That’s just when we became Number Two cow-herd state in the nation. We displaced Oklahoma that downsized their herds in face of dry grass and huge wild fires.

Am I looking at the wrong omens? Does climate change faster and hotter than climate-changers say?

The sale of the first set of fall-calving heifers at Farmington was worrisome. Bidders held tight on their wallets, having doubts about summer grass growth.

Buyer doubt compounded by an untimely tweet by the President who put in doubt our ability to gain free trade with China. That huge market promised rising beef prices.

Little did the tweeter know that helping his supporters in steel country would put a big whack on his farmer supporters in the Midwest?

How can a farmer plan, when one man can quickly upset free trade.

But, a look on Sunday morning into the maple tree in the front yard brings optimism.

The squirrels that rob seed from my bird feeder are out clipping half-filled winged maple seeds, a fresh food diet.

On Saturday morning, I had brunch with a bunch of College of Ag donors.

New donors were enrolled in the Monticello Society. They now wear new lapel pins, showing their optimism in supporting the best land-grant university in the nation.

That may be the biased view of an old man who invested, could this be, 60 years of life. Yep, a good investment. In addition to these old donors, there were bright young scholars, beneficiaries of what we support.

I was part of brainstorming the society name 14 years ago.

Our reasoning was logical, if somewhat convoluted. MU was the first land-grant university west of the Mississippi River in the Louisiana Purchase. That forward investment was made by President Thomas Jefferson. Our thinking: Jefferson, a farmer, is why we are here. He called his farm Monticello.

Our plan to honor forward-thinking donors was to name our society Monticello. A proud name. I’m glad to be associated.

With a gift, you too can receive a pin and wonderful brunch. A nice morning, visiting pleasant people

OK, here’s a benefit. We were updated on research, extension and teaching, triple roles of a land-grant university. Dr. David Patterson told how far Missouri beef farmers have come in raising MU Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers.

Send your summer outlook to or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203.